BOULDER, Colo. — A full Triceratops skeleton cast now greets visitors in the lobby of the Sustainable, Energy and Environment Community building on the University of Colorado Boulder's campus.
The high-resolution cast, which was donated to the CU Museum of Natural History by the Smithsonian Institution, was created after scientists at the Smithsonian put 10 partial Triceratops specimens found in Wyoming in the late 1800s together for a display in 1905. A cast of that skeleton was created out of plastic, fiberglass and foam, and is now on display in Boulder. The original skeleton is housed at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
Previously, the Smithsonian Institution had loaned CU Boulder a Triceratops skull for 41 years, which was returned to Washington, DC in May 2022 for further study. In exchange, the Smithsonian gifted the full skeleton cast to the CU Museum.
This is the first full-scale dinosaur skeleton to be displayed on the campus.
The Triceratops arrived in Boulder in 2022 from Washington, DC. A crew put it together off-site before it was delivered to the school's Sustainable, Energy and Environment Community building.
CU Boulder said the skeleton's body, limbs and skull were so large that they had to be rolled through the doors separately. In total, the Triceratops is 22 feet long and nine feet tall.
Museum specialists measured door openings and the size of galleries, and created computer models to decide how to split the skeleton and put it back together. CU paleontologist Dr. Jaelyn Eberle collaborated with staff to figure out the best place on campus to show the skeleton, and ultimately decided on the lobby of the Sustainable, Energy and Environment Community building.
In life, Triceratops roamed modern-day Colorado in search of leafy food around 68 to 66 million years ago, until an asteroid hit Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs. In recent times, their fossils have been found across the west in North America. The very first Triceratops fossils were found in 1887 near Denver.
“Everybody knows about Triceratops,” said Karen Chin, professor in the Department of Geological sciences and curator of paleontology at the CU Museum of Natural History. “But it's not common in museums to see the whole animal. To see the scale of this dinosaur, and such a weird dinosaur, is very exciting.”
Students, staff and the public can see the exhibit for free on weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The Sustainable, Energy and Environment Community building is on East Campus and is closed on weekends and holidays.
- Triceratops fossil excavation concludes in Highlands Ranch (July 16, 2019)
- World's biggest triceratops skeleton sells for $7.7 million in Paris (Oct. 21, 2021)
- What's That?: Triceratops sculptures pop up in Golden (Jan. 8, 2021)